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William A. Butler Correspondence - MMS 1637

Private William A. Butler served with Company G, 144th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

William A. ButlerĀ Correspondence

Originally published in the Wyandot Pioneer, August 5, 1864, p.1


Having written nothing for your paper since I left with the Marseilles company, I thought I would drop you a few lines about our late campaign, and a brief account of the actions just as they passed under my view. The afternoon of the 4th we received marching orders but were not ordered to leave Camp Parole until the morning of the 7th. About 2 o'clock of that morning, we received orders to be ready to take the cars in 30 minutes with 3 days rations in one haversack. Not having any provisions cooked, we filled our haversacks with hard tack and raw sowbelly and started, we knew not whither. We arrived at Annapolis Junction (I believe that is what it is called) where we changed locomotives and again started for an unknown destination. We stopped for a short time at the Relay House, where Col. Hunt and most of our regiment is stationed, and conversed with some of the members of the Carey Co. (Ed. Note: Co.D-Capt. Brayton), but their names I did not learn.

As soon as the train for which we were waiting had passed, we again started and in a few hours were landed at the Monocacy Junction, the most important station on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. Here was our destination, to assist in protecting the Iron Bridge across the Monocacy River at the Junction.

Our command consisted of three companies of the 144th and three companies of the 149th O.N.G, all under the command of Major Rozelle of the 149th. We were marched to the north of the Junction and ordered to pitch our tents. But scarcely had this been done when the order was countermanded, and we were ordered into line and each man received 100 rounds of cartridges. This bespoke something. We were then ordered to load our pieces, and then await further orders. We remained in this position under a sweating sun for about one hour, during which time horsemen and cannon were se4en hurrying in every direction, when we were ordered to rest at will. We were not long in seeking shade, and thus took our ease until about 4 o'clock when of Co. (Co.G from Marseilles) was ordered to report at headquarters. Capt. Frank reported with his company with his usual promptness and we were sent out 3/4 of a mile in the direction of Frederick City, and stationed on picket duty. Soon the booming of the cannon was heard in the direction of Frederick, and for the first time we began to realize the presence of an enemy. The firing continued for about 1/2 an hour when the roar of musketry was plainly heard to mingle with that of artillery. There was very little intermission in the firing from this until dark, when all became calm and what a short time before that might have been considered a battlefield, now seemed enfolded in the arms of morpheus. The gathering storm seemed to have passed and all around was as calm as a summer morning. But the calm was of short duration, ere the night had half passed away the heavy trundling of artillery wagons was heard reverberating along the hills and the awful sound resembling the far distant roar of a terrible storm as it first burst on the ear of the listener. This noise remained a mystery to us until the next morning, when we ascertained it was the trampling of some 2,000 of our cavalry, passing forward to engage in the hand to hand conflict of the coming day.

About 8 a.m. of the 8th, we were ordered off picket duty and again reported at headquarters, we were ordered to stack arms and six of our men were detailed to guard some rebel prisoners just brought in. In the meantime, our detachment had been ordered to Frederick and in a short time our Co. was ordered there also. We were put on the cars with the 11 Md. home guards (100 days men) and run to Frederick where we were marched to the field. Here we found our detachment, which had been joined up by the remainder of the 149th, drawn up in line of battle. Our Co. was ordered to the right of the regiment and formed in line of battle. We were then ordered to cap our pieces and await further orders.

The roar of cannon was distinctly heard on the other side of the mountain, and we were assured by this that the deadly conflict was not far distant. Everything seemed to be uproar and bustle; artillerymen were urging their horses to the utmost speed, the sounding of bugles was heard in the distance, and horsemen were seen running in every direction. Soon we were ordered to left face, we marched a short distance, then we were marched from the field, while a portion of the 6th Corps took our places. We marched about 1/2 mile where we found another line of battle formed. We were formed on the left of this, in a hollow, but scarcely was this done when we were ordered off the field to guard the Baltimore Bridge. We arrived at the Bridge just before sundown exhausted by the fatigue of the day, some sick, some given out, and others lagging behind. Sergeant Worley (Ed note: 55-year old Sgt. Cornelius V.D. Worley) of Little Sandusky, Sgt. Brazer (Ed note: 2nd Sgt.Marshall Cozier most likely) of Marseilles, and myself were about gone up we encamped in a pasture field close to the bridge, but scarcely had we got our suppers eaten, when the regiment was again ordered to move. Our officers consulted, and concluded to rest awhile anyhow, and if no further orders came, to stay there all night. We were glad to snatch a minutes rest anywhere, threw ourselves upon the ground, but ere an hour passed away, the detachment from the 144th consisting of Co.B, Capt. Black, of Wood County, Co.I, Capt. McKee, also of Wood, and our company was ordered to march without a moment's delay to the Junction, a distance of about 2 1/2 miles. The 11th Md. was ordered to accompany the detachment. Sergt's Worley, Brazer, and myself, as we were not able to go (at least we thought so) were joined by three or four others who had given out.

About 2 o'clock A.M. an order came for the 149th to immediately march to the bridge and hold it all hazards; and I was told to take the men left with me to the Junction, where we were put on the wrong road, we did not find out until we arrived at the river. Here we lay down in the rain (for it had commenced raining) and slept soundly until morning. We awoke about daylight and shortly picket firing commenced all around us, but at some distance. We started for the Junction, where we found our company all right. The picket firing soon ceased, and we supposed it was nothing of any importance.

Our detachment was soon ordered to headquarters, where we stacked arms but scarcely was this done when Gen. Tyler arrived with the Adjutant of the 149th, and our detachment was ordered to the support of that regiment as it had already become engaged with the "Johneys." We started on our back track for the bridge again, but had not gone over 1/2 mile when we were ordered to leave all encumbrances and double quick to the battlefield. Corporal Clark, J.O. Neal, and myself were left to guard our baggage. This was the last I saw of our Co., or detachment. But I was told by Surgeon Burcison since I came to this place (Frederick City), they arrived on the field just as the 11th Md. and 149th were charging the Rebs and went immediately under fire. They never flinched but went at it like old veterans. They drove the Rebs from their position and held their ground against superior numbers until after the defeat of Wallace, when the Rebs were reinforced, and turning our flank, we were obliged to give way. I saw the retreat for I was driven from my post with the rest, and arrived at the bridge just in time to see our men flying from the host of demons swarming all around them. I will not pretend, at present, to give you even a faint idea of the terrible sight which was presented to the beholder. When I commenced writing, I thought I should, but I cannot. Suffice it to say we were defeated, but not until five times our number were brought against us. We met with some loss, and those to whom we deeply regret. Corporal David Lindsey was shot through the bowels during the charge and died the next day. He was buried near the battlefield. Orderly (Sgt.) Aaron Kennedy received a flesh wound through the left arm, Private Edward H. Rubins was shot through the right arm. His arm was amputated just above the elbow, he is doing well, so is Kennedy. Reuben Willard (Bugler) and Privates John Emmon, J. Crisher (Krisher), and Wm. B. Fisher were known to be taken prisoners. Lieut. H. Kennedy, John McGahey, and myself are all of the company who are not wounded and have arrived here. Where the company is, we cannot tell, but think it has probably gone into Penn., or to Baltimore, but we hope to get together as soon as communication is established.

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